Adopted people have to pay for UK search for relatives

Tusla, the child and family agency, is telling adopted people who need a search to be undertaken for relatives in Britain that they will have to pay for the service.

The Irish Examiner has learned some British traces are carried out on behalf of Tusla by adoption support agency PAC-UK. The fee, however, is to be borne by the person tracing their relatives and not Tusla.

An email sent by a Tusla social worker last month to an adopted person seeking information explained how the system operates.

“[PAC-UK] will undertake a search of the UK for us in Tusla at a cost payable by service user of £210,” says the email. “You pay this directly to them and then we complete the forms for the search to begin, with whatever information we have. Any information they find, will only be past [sic] to Tusla to follow up on, and then if I make contact with your Birth Mother obviously I let you know what she said, re contact.”

The social worker explained that the reason why the information was returned to Tusla and not to the adopted person paying for the service was because PAC-UK “cannot work directly with you as an Irish citizen under Irish adoption law but they can work interagency, as there is an agreement with the Adoption Authority here”.

Adoption Authority of Ireland chief executive Patricia Carey told the Irish Examiner it was unaware that adopted people were being informed by Tusla of any fees to be paid in relation to tracing.

She said there was no agreement with her group in relation to the service.

“We were not aware — at any level — that Tusla was charging any fees either directly or as an intermediary for information and tracing services and they are not advertised on their website,” said Ms Casey. “The Adoption Authority should be aware if Tusla are charging a fee or passing on a fee for part of an information and tracing service. We should be aware of that. However, their fees do not have to be approved by the Adoption Authority, unlike other accredited agencies.”

In a statement, Tusla said its ability to search in Britain is hampered by its lack of access to the UK’s General Register Office. It also said it was not charging the fee but was merely informing adopted people of fees charged by other agencies.

“Where Tusla believes that a relative being traced is in the UK, the Agency exhausts every avenue available to it to establish the likelihood of this,” Tusla said in a statement. “The person who is seeking their relative is then advised of services available to them in the UK and can decide whether they wish to continue tracing via these services.

“They are advised of fees which are charged by the service, not by Tusla. Where people are not in a position to pay the fees, Tusla advocates for them and in some cases we have succeeded in having services provided on a pro bono basis.”

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